Thursday, May 24, 2018

Nancy is Blowing Me


I'm Reading Nancy Comic Strip Again

As a child and on into adulthood, I always read the Nancy comic strip when it was available in the newspapers. I was in Philadelphia when they decided to do a purge and bring in new comic strips and only Blondie and Peanuts survived.

I always considered Nancy a boring strip. I would constantly say, 'I'm not going to waste my time reading it anymore.' Yet, everyday I was there reading it. Ernie Bushmiller was weaving some kind of hypnotic spell over me through ink and newsprint.

Nancy was taken over by Gilchrist. It was definitely more visually exciting, yet the writing was nothing to get excited about. After sampling it, I never read it again. It wasn't Nancy.

It wasn't until the interent that I found out a lot of artists shared my guilty pleasure of reading Nancy.
Now the internet is abuzz about a new creator on Nancy.

And that becomes the first weird thing to discuss.

Everyone seems to be excited that it is a woman writing and drawing Nancy for the first time. Her name is Olivia James, or is it? Because the Internet is also saying that this is a pseudonym. I don't know how anyone knows it's a pseudonym and if it is - is it a pseudonym for woman or a pseudonym for a man?

In any case, that has nothing to do with the price of butter. Let's start looking at this first Nancy daily strip by "Olivia James." It debuted on April 9, 2018. I worked my way backward from the current comic on to find the first one. What a difference from the day before. In the comment section it previously averaged about 20 comments. This first new creator strip I'm looking at it now (as of this writing) has over 200 comments, over 100 hearts and over 40 pins. An astronomical leap over the previous strips. The comment section themselves are worthy of a whole article, Perhaps for another day... let's look at the first strip.
Nancy copyright 2018 UFS

We see an unknown person looking at Nancy at a table with a pie. We don't know if this person is male or female and don't find out that she's a female until the last panel. We never find out who she is and why she is so interested in Nancy. She's kinda creepy. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

She starts out complementing Nancy and then kind of dogging  her out. Now this seems to happen in real time as if she's talking in one continuous moment with no pauses. Meaning pretty much as we read it that's the time it is taking her to say it. 

But, Nancy's down with quantum space time.

Now let's break this down panel by panel.

The person comments that Nancy is a sweet girl. Sweet girl, sweet pie, Sweetie pie, get it? So from the first panel we are unsettled by this woman's interest in Nancy; a little girl. Is that intentional? Nancy is sitting at a table, most likely in a cafeteria because of the tray holding her pie. We don't know if this is in a school or a food court in the mall. So we will just have to go with "a cafeteria somewhere." Nancy is sitting, smiling looking at her pie on the tray. She has no utensils and that wouldn't be unusual for a kid to eat a slice of pie with her hands.

The second panel has the woman commenting that Nancy is "also a salt girl." Whoa... wait a minute. Now Nancy suddenly has a fork, a salt shaker and a drink. Whether someone brought those to the table or Nancy got up herself to get them, that definitely means time has passed. So this person has been standing in the same spot the whole time the new items reached the table. That means this is not a continuous monologue. She had to wait for Nancy to get all this, pick up her knife and salt shaker to continue talking about her.

Moving on to the third panel this woman is still dogging Nancy, who now has a knife. The fork and salt shaker have disappeared. She also now has a hamburger, a stick of butter in her hand, with a cupcake near the drink. So a lot more time has passed and this woman is still standing there commenting aloud about Nancy to herself. There is no audience revealed to us.

The fourth and last panel the woman comments about Nancy really enjoying her cornbread. So again, the cornbread had not been present the whole time, so this could only have arrived later. This unknown woman is stalking Nancy and commenting on everything that she's eating. That is creepy.

And that is what is going to keep me reading this comic strip. One; because the storytelling seems to be operating on many different levels at the same time. Two; because if you just do a surface read of it nothing odd seems to be really happening much like the Bushmuller strips. Unlike the Bushmuller strips there seems to be a level of uneasiness introduced. Questions that have to be asked, yet may never be answered. We are left to consider what type of reality we've stepped into here. Has Nancy achieved a whole new level of absurd, bland, formulaic, minimalist subversiveness? 

Let me know what you think. Start reading Nancy here

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